Mapping the Future of Africa–China Relations: Insights from West Africa

Image: Getty, Lintao Zhang
Image: Getty, Lintao Zhang

The year 2020 marked two decades since the start of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).


  • 2021’s Forum on China–Africa Cooperation summit will be the first to be held in a francophone country (Senegal) and the summit’s debut in West Africa.
  • It occurs at a moment of major shifts in the Africa–China relationship – one that raises many questions around how Africa would like the relationship to evolve.
  • West Africa–China relations have changed rapidly over the past two decades. Beyond trade, China is now a major lender to the region and deeply involved in training, infrastructure provision, and peace and security.
  • This paper argues that key areas of the FOCAC summit agenda will include health, economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, regional integration and debt.
  • It also makes concrete suggestions on how West African policymakers can maximise the outcomes of their relationship with China – insights that are applicable to the entire continent and many other regions of the Global South.

29 Sep 2021